In September, the 66-year-old had a routine physical. His blood panel revealed that he had an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is produced by both normal and cancerous cells of the prostate gland. Roker then underwent an MRI and a biopsy, which revealed the presence of cancer.
“When [the doctor] started, he closed his door and said, ‘I always like to have these discussions face to face,’” Roker recalled on a Nov. 6 segment of Today. “And I was like, ‘Uh-oh. Well, that doesn’t sound good.’”
“It was a diagnosis I didn’t expect,” Roker continued. “You hear the word ‘cancer’ and your mind goes… it’s the next level, you know?”
Despite the news, Roker went into work shortly after he learned of his diagnosis. “This one was kind of just a weird feeling that nobody can outwardly see anything different about me,” he said. “I looked in the mirror, there was nothing outwardly different. But I knew there was something intrinsically, inherently, internally different.”
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 in 9 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the disease is more likely to impact older and African American men. “It’s a little more common than people realize,” Roker said, explaining that he wanted to go public about his diagnosis to spread awareness and encourage other men, particularly Black men, to see a doctor for proper check-ups.
“It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing,” he added. “Good news is we caught it early. Not great news is that it’s a little aggressive, so I’m going to be taking some time off to take care of this.”
According to the ACS, men with localized and regional prostate cancer have a nearly 100% five-year survival rate when detected early.
Roker will undergo surgery this week to have his prostate removed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Despite taking time off from Today, Roker ensured he’ll be back on the show soon enough. “We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back,” he said.
Roker’s Today co-hosts and fans rallied behind him following the announcement of his diagnosis. In a new Instagram post, Savannah sent love to her colleague in the caption.
I adore you, dearest @alroker. We know you will beat this prostrate cancer and be back in no time. All our love and prayers. And thanks for sharing your journey so that others may be helped too. So much respect. ❤️
A post shared by Savannah Guthrie (@savannahguthrie) on Nov 6, 2020 at 5:54am PST
“I adore you, dearest @alroker. We know you will beat this prostate cancer and be back in no time,” she wrote. “All our love and prayers. And thanks for sharing your journey so that others may be helped too. So much respect. ❤️”
Fans also flooded the comments with well wishes. “Sending prayers for a speedy recovery,” one person wrote. “Good luck Al💙,” another added.
Amid the support, Roker is ensuring his loved ones that he’s going to be just fine. “I don’t want people thinking, ‘Oh, poor Al,’ you know, because I’m gonna be OK,” he said on Today, adding that he feels fortunate to have great friends, family, coworkers, and doctors supporting him. “You know what? If that’s what it takes to get 2020 out, then let’s just get it outta the way. Boom! Let’s just finish it off. I’m ready. How about you?”
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